On January 1, ChristianPersecution.com reported on the fraud charges against Elders Hao Ming and Wu Jiannan. Chinese authorities have been pressing Hao Ming to confess, but he refuses, simply because he is not guilty.
For background on Orthodox Christianity in China, see here.
For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.
“Elder Hao Ming Refused to Confess In Exchange for Release,” China Aid, December 28, 2023:
(Deyang, Sichuan Province – December 28, 2023) On December 18, 2023, a defense attorney met with Elder Hao Ming of Deyang Qingcaodi Reformed Church. The lawyer revealed that Elder Hao Ming is in reasonable health, has a good appetite, but is dissatisfied with the poor quality of food in the detention center. Authorities are urging Elder Hao Ming to confess and accept the charges, assuring release if he changes lawyers, a proposal he has declined.
On November 17, 2021, retired Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan were taken away by Deyang police, along with several other church members on the same day. Two days later, Deyang police criminally detained Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan under the charge of ‘fraud,’ while others were released. On Christmas Day, December 25 of the same year, the family members of Elder Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan received arrest notices, accusing them of suspected ‘fraud.’ In early December 2022, the case was brought to trial at Jinyang District Court in Deyang City, with the two elders facing charges of fraud involving an alleged amount of up to ￥560,000 yuan (~$79,150 U.S. Dollars).
Elders Hao Ming and Elder Wu Jiannan were elected by the congregation of Deyang Qingcaodi Reformed Church. Both elders had an excellent reputation within the church. Elder Hao Ming was widely acknowledged for his self-discipline and noble character. His family even offered their own house for gatherings, and even the police expressed disbelief that he would engage in fraud. Donation to the church is a Christian tradition, and both members and ministers, including pastors, elders, and co-workers, willingly donate to their church. It is a biblical requirement to compensate those who serve, and a small portion of the donation is designated to provide salaries for ministers. Elder Hao Ming received only a monthly book allowance of ￥100 yuan (~14 U.S. Dollars), while Elder Wu Jiannan’s monthly salary was only ￥3,000 yuan (~424 U.S. Dollars). Labeling such selfless and dedicated elders with the charge of ‘fraud’ is truly absurd.
It is understood that, with the efforts of the lawyers, after the case was submitted for review at Sichuan Provincial High Court, Deyang City People’s Procuratorate modified the indictment on August 25, 2023, reducing the charged amount to ￥100,130 yuan (~14，152 U.S. Dollars). This implies that the statutory punishment they might face has been reduced from over ten years to three years or more. Both elders and their legal representatives insist that offering and tithe is a biblical teaching and a tradition of the church, and it should not be construed as fraud.
The amount in question represents the church’s financial compensation to Elder Wu Jiannan’s wife, Cui Yanqin, over several years. The condition for this support is that she refrains from taking on other employment and focuses entirely on assisting Elder Wu in his ministry. In light of this, Cui Yanqin relinquished her position as a teacher in a public school and became a full-time homemaker. This financial compensation was approved by all church members, and the details were transparently disclosed to the congregation every month. Therefore, it cannot be considered as fraudulent income….